Newport man tells story of great uncle's First war death at 16 with the Monmouthshire Regiment

FAMILY HISTORY: Philip Martin, who has researched the life of his uncle, who died, aged 16, in the First World War

FAMILY HISTORY: Philip Martin, who has researched the life of his uncle, who died, aged 16, in the First World War

First published in Gwent news

A NEWPORT man has spent years researching the life of his great uncle, who was one of the youngest men from Gwent to die in the First World War.

Job William White was just 16 when he died on May 8, 1915, during the battle of Frenzenburg, along with more than 230 men of the Monmouthshire Regiment.

Private 2169 of B Company in the 1st Monmouhshire Regiment was affectionately known by his family as ‘Little Willie’.

His great-nephew Philip Martin, 73, a retired project engineer from St Julians, said: “The more you read, the more you realise what a terrible war this was. It’s a big story, but a very sad one for Newport.

“Job was my grandmother’s brother and they lived on Caerleon Road. The house is still there today.

“The 1st Mons were mostly from Newport and a very large number of them were all killed on the same day, May 8, 1915, when the battalion was more or less annihilated at a place called Mouse Hole Farm, renamed by the troops as Shell Hole Farm.

“The 1st Mons were positioned there and faced a barrage of up 100 shells per minute.

“When the East Lancashire Regiment came to relieve them, they found that two whole platoons of the Rifle Brigades (1st Mons were riflemen) had been completely wiped out.

“This was where Pte 2169 Job William White lost his life.

“I started researching him and the rest of the family eight or ten years ago. One day, I came across his medals and looked them up on a website of military records, and that’s how it all began.”

“I’m doing it for my grandchildren, really. Four years ago, I took mygrandson to Ypres, to see Job’s name on the cenotaph there.”

Mr Martin has created slideshows, documents and records his findings on a family tree programme on his computer.

Letter from the front

THE LETTER dated April 20, 1915, from Private Job William White to his sister, May, in Newport:

Dear May since I sent you the P.C. we have had another shift & the place where we are & the trenches we have to go to are the worst we have had up to now, in fact I don’t think there is any place along the line worst, we are holding when more fighting is taking place, it is as we were told by the chaps who have been there “a hell on earth” & I thank God I am able to say I am alright.

Dear May don’t think when you read these few lines that I have got “The wind up” (that is what we say when men get afraid) because I have not, but I think a lot more and pray more to our maker than I ever did in my life because he is the only one who can stop this war and I hope it will soon be over.

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